Proposed disaster levy for heavy industry

Stock image.
Stock image.

AUSTRALIA’s coal and gas industry companies should be slapped with a levy to help pay for the skyrocketing costs of climate-change driven disasters such as bushfires, a think tank says.

As communities across the nation continue to battle killer blazes on Friday, the Australia Institute blamed sections of heavy industry for the increased frequency and severity of disasters.

“A one dollar levy on core oil and gas produced in Australia could raise $1.5 billion annually – essential income for a national climate disaster fund,” the Institute’s Richie Merzian told reporters.

“If you profit from supplying the cause, you should help cover the cost of the impact.”

Rural Fire Service firefighters battle a spot fire in Hillville, NSW. Picture: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

The Insurance Council of Australia has estimated property damage stemming from bushfire claims since September across NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland totals about $300 million.

But the Australia Institute said the cost to taxpayers would prove greater.

“(Victoria’s) Black Saturday bushfires cost Australia $7 billion and the current bushfires are already six times the size with no end in sight,” Mr Merzian said.

“Natural disasters cost Australia $13 billion per year and that will only increase with the increase in frequency and severity of these climate disasters.”

The federal government’s National Security Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the bushfire crisis.

Natural Disaster and Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud has been contacted for comment on the proposed levy.

Up to $18.1 million in “new money” was announced by the minister on Friday, providing grants of up to $15,000 for farmers and small businesses hit by the fires.

“This takes the total assistance provided through the jointly funded Commonwealth-State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements to more than $80 million,” he said in a statement.